Senate Approves 'Nunn-Lugar II' to Counter Domestic WMD Threats
Cerniello, Craig, Arms Control Today
THE SENATE on June 27 approved by a vote of 96-0 the "Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996," a $235 million effort to improve the U.S. ability to respond to the use or threatened use of weapons of mass destruction in the United States. The legislation, referred to as "Nunn-Lugar II," was introduced only one day earlier by Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA), Richard Lugar (R-IN)-the sponsors of the original legislation that provided security assistance to the states of the former Soviet Union-and Pete Domenici (R-NM) as an amendment to the fiscal year (FY) 1997 defense authorization bill. Nunn-Lugar II aims to enhance U.S. preparedness in responding to incidents involving the use of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical weapons on U.S. soil; bolster efforts to interdict the possible introduction to the United States of weapons of mass destruction; and better coordinate U.S. government policy on non-proliferation issues. The program also provides additional support for on-going measures to safeguard, dismantle and destroy nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union under the original Nunn-Lugar program, first approved in 1991.
The legislation would provide $150 million for the Department of Defense (DOD) and $85 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to implement the program. On July 17, the Senate unanimously approved an amendment to the FY97 defense appropriations bill that would provide the proposed DOD funding for Nunn-Lugar II.
Although the House of Representatives had completed its defense authorization bill in mid-May, Representatives John Spratt (D-SC) and Bill McCollum (R-FL) introduced a comparable measure in the House on June 27. The legislation will be taken up when House and Senate conferees meet to reconcile their versions of the defense authorization bill in late July.
Nunn-Lugar II contains four key provisions. First, it bolsters efforts to respond to possible incidents within the United States involving the use or threatened use of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons. In this regard, DOD, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and DOE, will implement a program to provide federal, state and local agencies with "training and expert advice" regarding emergency responses to incidents involving such weapons. In addition, DOD and DOE will coordinate efforts to help these agencies locate, neutralize, dismantle and dispose of nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological weapons in the event of an incident involving their use. The amendment also initiates a five-year program to test and improve the responses of federal, state and local agencies to emergencies involving such weapons. …